Last week I got opportunity to watch “The Social Network” in comfort of couch at home. I understand that most of the movie is just a dramatization of actual series of events. I am also not sure how much of the movie is inspired from real story. But if I ignore dark side of this story, there are two things that strike me are real recipe of Facebook’s initial phase of success.
Mark Zuckerberg was connected closely with his customers. For example he was not dependent on market research to tell him about the importance of “relationship status” for a Facebook user. He is not only a top class engineer, but also a good market researcher. He know very well about the value proposition of his product to his customers.
Second striking fact about Zuckerberg in movie was that in his initial phase he was focused on a very small segment of customers. He focused very well in solving the problems for his small segment of customers instead of finding solution for the whole world. This focused approach created an army of loyal customers for his future success. His choice for starting with small Howard community gave him a room to experiment and later expanding to larger community with a solid base. I feel that his success was not only from his expertise and agility in engineering, but also was from his closeness to customers and strong value proposition for focused smaller customer segment.
Today many large companies are facing innovation deadlock problems. Their problem is really that they have specialized marketing and engineering roles, which is keeping their engineers away from their customers. This movie is a good message for large companies that their specialized organizational structure combining with their ignorance towards smaller segment of customers is jamming their cycle of innovation.